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Global Fleet Expert
Director Automotive Supply, After Sales & Consultancy Services
Posted on: 18 July 2016

5 questions answered on the new vehicle emission approval procedure

vehicle emission approval procedure

The new testing procedure for vehicle emissions is scheduled for release in 2017. In this post we help answer five key questions regarding the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) and provide you with some tips on what you can already begin doing to prepare for the changes within your own organisations.

Decoding WLTP

We love technical terms in the automotive industry. It is therefore no different when considering the new emissions standards scheduled for 2017. While a number of points on the topic are still to be clarified, LeasePlan is already engaging with the automotive supply chain in order to demystify WLTP including what the OEMs are doing about it and what the impact is to you, our clients and drivers.

Here are answers to the top 5 questions regarding WLTP:

1. What is WLTP?

WLTP refers to the new type of approval procedure for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of cars and LCVs. WLTP focuses on CO2 rather than NOX emissions. For Europe, NOX emission measurement is covered in the RDE (Real Driving Emissions) also being introduced in September 2017.
 WLTP was developed by the United Nations working group UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) and approved for adoption in March 2014. Previously UNECE were responsible for the development of worldwide harmonized test procedures for motorcycles and heavy-duty vehicles.

2. Why is WLTP being introduced?

Currently emission regulation implemented across the world is either regionally or locally specific. Secondly suppliers, customers and governing bodies alike recognise that vehicles contain a significantly higher level of technology than when the various emission standards were introduced, resulting in a disparity between the laboratory testing and real world driving conditions. Lastly, particularly within the EU, the existing type of approval procedure, New European Drive Cycle (NEDC), was introduced before mandatory CO2 targets which, if not achieved, can have an impact on a vehicle manufacturer’s economic performance.

The aim therefore of WLTP is to more accurately reflect real world driving and harmonise emissions testing across the globe. It is believed that this will benefit the vehicle manufacturers by contributing to a more level global playing field; consumers will be able to make more informed choices and governments will be in a position to better manage emissions and potentially claim more realistic tax income.

We recommend our clients focus on closely monitoring communication from the vehicle manufacturers regarding WLTP

3. When and where will it be introduced?

WLTP is not in fact truly worldwide. Although originally in the UN working group, the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) withdrew in 2010, leaving the EU, Japan, India and South Korea as the main participants in creating the regulation. It will therefore be implemented in these countries with possible application on a wide scale later on. In addition to US, China is also clearly excluded at this stage.

While WLTP is an overarching standard, during the implementation process freedom has been given to make certain adaptations to account for differences at regional and / or local level. In the case of the EU, the version applicable to member states was approved in March 2016 and will be implemented in September 2017, coinciding with the adoption of the updated EU6 (European Emission Standards) regulation. This update of EU6 or EU6d as it is more formally known, focuses mainly on the inclusion of RDE testing. Additionally as part of the WLTP implementation in the EU, the CO2 targets defined for 2020-2021 based on NEDC testing will need to be translated to WLTP equivalent values.

There will be a phased approach on the journey to full WLTP implementation:

Up to August 2017:
• NEDC testing will remain in place
• Vehicle manufacturers will prepare for WLTP and in some cases already begin to publish WLTP figures for new models e.g. Opel for new Astra
• LeasePlan will continue its preparations via an internal working group

September 2017 to December 2019:
• WLTP type approval testing will be introduced for new vehicles
• New vehicles will be tested both using both NEDC and WLTP type approval procedures
• The legally binding values for the CO2 monitoring will remain the NEDC based results
• WLTP based results can be used for customer information (sales brochures and CO2 labelling)
• As further focus is placed on WLTP results by various stakeholders it is expected that national tax regulations will adapt to utilising WLTP based CO2 values. Correspondingly vehicle manufacturers will optimise vehicle development for this test rather than NEDC.

From 2020 onwards:
• New vehicles will be tested using WLTP type approval procedure only
• CO2 emission targets will have to be met in the WLTP
• For this, it is necessary to translate the existing 95 g/km NEDC based target into an equivalent WLTP based target (expected to be about 100g/km)
• To allow sufficient time for vehicle manufacturers to adapt to WLTP, a further 12 months phase-in period will also come into place meaning that the 5% of vehicles with the highest CO2 emission levels will not be counted in 2020 when determining whether a manufacturer met its target or not.

4. What is the impact of WLTP?

The main test procedure differences are described below:

Currently only small samples of vehicles have been assessed to identify the differences in CO2 and fuel consumption for NEDC and WLTP testing. Results are currently therefore inconclusive in terms of the anticipated net differences in the results.

What we do know is that:

• Current product development, no matter the test procedure, focuses on reducing emissions including CO2 and fuel consumption
• With NEDC still in place until 2020, vehicle manufacturers have currently focused product development on this test procedure and not WLTP
• Vehicle manufacturers already hit the 130g/km CO2 target in 2013. There is therefore no reason to expect that the 2020-2021 target of 95g/km will not be achieved whatever the method
• With WLTP also taking into account special equipment, options that have negative impact to weight and aerodynamics will raise the overall vehicle CO2 rating. Some options e.g. sport suspension can have a positive impact to CO2 and fuel consumption

5. What will happen between now and September 2017?

Within the next 14 months all stakeholders will continue to work on clarifying the impact of WLTP.

For vehicle manufacturers the key areas of focus will be:

• Pursuing further clarity on WLTP testing arrangements particularly regarding alternative power trains and the definition of family vehicle groups
• Continuing to anticipate the phased approach to WLTP implementation in vehicle development and monitoring local market tax regulation development
• Deciding when to start publishing WLTP figures and how to communicate this to customers in all sales channels including fleet

What can you do now to prepare?

Here at LeasePlan we recommend our clients focus on closely monitoring communication from the vehicle manufacturers regarding WLTP (including when they plan to start publishing WLTP test results in sales material). One can already begin raising internal awareness regarding the pending changes as well as considering the impact on future decisions regarding fleet programmes and policy development.

LeasePlan will do our best to keep our clients and readers informed of all developments in this area so watch this space for future blog posts on this topic.


The International Council on Clean Transportation, The WLTP: How a new test procedure for cars will affect fuel consumption values in the EU (2014.10.29)


About the author

Global Fleet Expert

Helen Cooper has worked for LeasePlan for over ten years, initially joining LeasePlan UK in the Operations Department focusing on vehicle procurement and developing related operational excellence.

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